Tom Clarkson's 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix race report

Published: 04 August 2008

They were the most impressive ten seconds of Felipe Massa’s Formula 1 career. His reaction to the lights going out was sublime; he then fed the perfect number of Ferrari horses through his rear wheels to stroke passed eventual winner Heikki Kovalainen, before driving around the outside of Lewis Hamilton at Turn 1.

In the press room there was a stunned silence. Had Felipe Massa, the man who’d spun five times in the wet at Silverstone, really given Lewis Hamilton a driving lesson? He had indeed. And he went on to dominate the race before an engine failure robbed him of victory within three laps of the flag.

For all the disappointment of throwing ten World Championship points down the pan, there were many positives for Felipe to take from Hungary. He proved once and for all that he can cut it with the big boys.

Hungary also marked a fascinating swing in the balance of power between the top two teams. After dominating the last two races, everyone expected McLaren to do the same here, and their one-two on the grid did little to dispel that viewpoint. Yet in race conditions Ferrari were their equal: Massa dominated at the front and Kimi Raikkonen strung together some hugely impressive laps once he’d passed Fernando Alonso at the second pitstop sequence.

The deciding factor on this occasion was tyre wear. The McLaren was harder on its front tyres than the Ferrari, which helped get the rubber up to temperature for one lap in qualifying; the Ferrari used its tyres less, making it less effective over one lap but more consistent in the race. We can expect the balance of power to swing back and forth for the remainder of the year, starting in Valencia in three weeks time where we can expect Massa to be right up there again.


1 Heikki Kovalainen
2 Timo Glock
3 Kimi Raikkonen
4 Fernando Alonso
5 Lewis Hamilton
6 Nelson Piquet
7 Jarno Trulli
8 Robert Kubica


1 Lewis Hamilton 62
2 Kimi Raikkonen 57
3 Felipe Massa 54
4 Robert Kubica 49
5 Nick Heidfeld 41

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By Tom Clarkson

F1 correspondent, BBC pitlane man, accesser of all areas, head beans-spiller